When talking about Pride Month and the history of the LGBTQ+ community, we must be reminded of a critical turning point in their fight for rights: the Stonewall Uprising. The Stonewall Riots occurred on June 28, 1969, in New York. The police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. The police dragged employees and customers out of the bar and sparked a six-day protest of nearby residents. The event was violent and was the catalyst for the Gay Rights Movement in America. Since then, it has not been an easy path for those in the community. Although small victories have been made, there is still a long way to go in the fight for equality. Below is a timeline of some of the key events that have impacted the LGBTQ+ communities’ journey to sexual and gender freedom.
1924 – Henry Gerber in Chicago founds the Society for Human Rights. It is the first documented gay rights organization.
April 1952 – The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual lists homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance.
April 27, 1953 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an executive order that bans homosexuals from working for the federal government, says they are a security risk.
July 1961 – Illinois becomes the first state to decriminalize homosexuality by repealing their sodomy laws.
September 11, 1961 – The first US-televised documentary about homosexuality airs on a local station in California.
June 28, 1969 – Police raid the Stonewall Inn in New York City. It is known as a catalyst for the Gay Rights Movement.
January 1, 1973 – Maryland becomes the first state to ban same-sex marriage.
December 15, 1973 – By a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in the DSM-II Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
1974 – Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly LGBTQ American elected to any public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council.
October 14, 1979 – The first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights takes place. It draws an estimated 75,000-125,000 individuals marching for LGBTQ rights.
March 2, 1982 – Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
November 30, 1993 – President Bill Clinton signs a military policy directive that prohibits openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military and prohibits the harassment of “closeted” homosexuals. The policy is known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
November 1995 – The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act goes into effect as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The law allows a judge to impose harsher sentences if evidence shows that a victim was selected because of the “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.”
December 3, 1996 – Hawaii’s Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples.
May 17, 2004 – The first legal same-sex marriage in the United States takes place in Massachusetts.
May 15, 2008 – The California Supreme Court rules in re: Marriage Cases limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is unconstitutional.
September 20, 2011 – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed, ending a ban on gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
May 9, 2012 – In an ABC interview, Obama becomes the first sitting US president to support the freedom for LGBTQ couples to marry publicly.
September 4, 2012 – The Democratic Party becomes the first major US political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention.
October 6, 2014 – The United States Supreme Court denies review in five different marriage cases, allowing lower court rulings to stand, allowing same-sex couples to marry in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin.
June 24, 2016 – Obama announces the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) rights. The Stonewall National Monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn, and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising.
June 30, 2016 – Secretary of Defense Carter announces that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military.
June 27, 2017 – District of Columbia residents can now choose a gender-neutral option for their driver’s license. DC residents become the first people in the United States to choose X as their gender marker instead of male or female on driver’s licenses and identification cards. Similar policies exist in Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, and Nepal.
March 23, 2018 – The Trump administration announces a new policy that bans most transgender people from serving in the military. After several court battles, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect in January 2019.
June 15, 2020 – The Supreme Court rules that federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination. The landmark ruling extends protections to millions of workers nationwide. It is a defeat for the Trump administration, which argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to gender identity and sexual orientation claims.
August 26, 2020 – The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the former student, Gavin Grimm. in a more than four-year fight over restroom policies for transgender students. The ruling states that policies segregating transgender students from their peers are unconstitutional and violate federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education. The decision relies partly on the Supreme Court’s decision in June 2020, stating that discrimination against people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
January 25, 2021 – President Joe Biden signs an executive order repealing the 2019 Trump-era ban on most transgender Americans joining the military. “This is reinstating a position that the previous commanders and, as well as the secretaries, have supported. And what I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform,” Biden said, speaking from the Oval Office just before signing the executive order.
Is this every single milestone in the history of the Gay Rights Movement? Of course not, but these are some important ones that I believe deserve to be remembered. Know of any critical events that I missed? Comment them below! Wishing a happy Pride Month to those of the LGBTQ+ community.